Quitting just might be the easiest thing you can do. You know why? Because you don’t have to do squat. It doesn’t take a special person to keep from quitting. It is, however, easier for some people to persevere than others, but that doesn’t mean it is impossible for everyone else.
Like most things - I know it sounds cliché friends - but persevering and succeeding takes hard work. But man, that hard work is worth it.
If you had a chance to listen to my book recommendations last week, or if you’ve heard any of the stories about my health journey, you probably remember that before it started, I believed - I mean I truly believed - that people couldn’t change. That mindsets were fixed. When I was around 30, that changed. I won’t spend too much time talking about that, however, I will say that it takes dedicated work and a handful of habits and goals to change.
Last month I talked about habits and how “sowing the seeds” of habits can make us have a more successful future. Once our habits are developed, sometimes we have to refocus and keep going with our basic habits to help us to avoid quitting.
When I think about goals and the success that comes with goals & habits, I think of several passages from scripture.
This passage from Galatians 6:9 connects nicely from last month’s theme of sowing your seeds of habits. Take a second to read and reflect:
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
We have this vision of sowing seeds in our rich soil, surrounding our seeds with people, scripture, prayer, and other examples of “doing good.” Our seeds grow and we stay on the path and we will “reap a harvest.” This harvest is the glory that we give God. The gifts He gives to us are examples of this harvest. We must live our lives intentionally to reap the most bountiful harvest. We must not give up.
A lot of the advice I would share about setting a goal or preparing for change are similar to the tips I’m about to give you now.
Although starting with our goals in mind will help us find a focal point and visualization, there is no right order with the 6 tips I’m sharing below. They do, however, all help us reframe our thoughts to get us back up.
How do we expect to be successful if we don’t have any goals? Are we going blindly into the future? How do we want to feel spiritually, emotionally, physically? We’ve got to have goals. Since I’m not talking about getting started, I’m talking about how to keep going, and I want to say that there are some things we need to do with our goals.
Evaluate your current goals. Often goals need smaller goals within them. Like the desire to lose weight - we have to have smaller goals, like eating more whole foods and moving our bodies more. If our current goals or sub-goals aren’t in line with what we want, we might need to change and adjust.
Often, we need to find a way to focus or be more mindful of our goal(s). Some people make vision boards. Some people pick a word as a focal point. Some people write their goals down in a journal. I write my goal on a sticky note and put it on my computer. I even do an activity called scripting - be on the lookout for more about that in a future blog.
You have to find a way that helps YOU focus on your goals.
Coming up with a plan is the next important step to move forward. We’ve established or re-evaluated our goals. We need plans to reach our goals. Action items. Sometimes we have a rough day, or a challenging week, and we’ve slipped off of our plans and our negative self-talk is about to overshadow our progress. We need to refocus on our goals and evaluate our plan(s). Often, a new plan needs to be developed for the temporary set-back we are feeling. If we reach this point - we are not quitters. We are normal. We are experiencing a set back and are ready to get back on a forward track.
For me that means looking toward the next decision in my goal reaching process I have coming up. If I am working toward a goal of losing weight and I’ve eaten a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia, a few times in two weeks, I’ve got to pause and look at the next thing I’m planning on doing. Is it dinner? Is it sleep? Do I have a workout planned?
It sounds simple, but we all know it's hard. I have to make the next choice/decision/action of my day, a better one than the temporarily satisfying high I got from some delicious but unhealthy ice cream.
As a health and nutrition coach, I see some of my clients trip up in the small details of their nutrition goals and get into that negative thought cycle that causes them to continue to make choices that distract them from their goals. Once someone strays from the typical trajectory of a goal, people find it easier to keep making decisions that are on the same line.
What now? We make a new plan.
After I get home from a meeting, I’m going to put a load of laundry in and go for a walk. I will eat almonds and drink a full bottle of water while on my walk. The plan to get out of a slump must be detailed, even timed. I will spend 15 minutes walking.
Why a plan? So many reasons. When sliding down a slippery slope, a plan has a different reaction - it helps us to realize that we are unhappy with recent decisions/actions, but we can change directions with new, specific steps.
Take a moment to reset
Today is a new day. Resets are often a good skill to develop or plan, but can come in helpful when some of our habits have slipped and taken us away from our goals. Resets often start with a change in perspective.
How does a reset work? We can start by taking a deep breath. Usually saying the goal(s) or writing down the positive steps we have taken towards our goal help us re
set. By focusing on what we have already done, we can change our mindset to the positive things instead of focusing on what we haven’t done.
After we have taken a breath and focused on the positives, we can move to focusing on what we can do TODAY. We “get” to feed our bodies. We “get” to exercise. We don’t “have” to. Remember that.
Get up by giving thanks
The Bible has the answers. Need a change in perspective? We can turn to 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
When life is full of struggles and you can’t get out of your head, or put on your positive pants, step out of yourself and give thanks.
Done is better than perfect
On difficult days, done is better than perfect. For example, when I don’t want to do my workout because I’m so busy with Teacher Appreciation Week and I’m stretched thin between making sure Gaven and Eden are doing their work and dinner is prepared and all busyness of life, I do it and tell myself that doing it is better than doing it perfectly. That doesn’t mean I can’t knock out my workout and feel like I’m on fire. It means that getting started and actually doing it is better than all the energy and time I’ve taken to talk myself into just getting started.
Sometimes, being able to cross something off a list is just enough to get us going again. This isn’t a new thought, even ancient philosopher Confucius said “It doesn’t matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.” Don’t stop. We’ve got this.
At the end of everything - giving ourselves grace and remembering His ultimate grace will get us through. When we reset, review our goals, and set some small action items, we get ourselves started back up! The momentum is in our favor.
The mindset change is essential. You are human. You are flawed. You deserve Grace. You automatically get Grace for Jesus, now give yourself some grace.
There are so many ways to prepare ourselves to avoid quitting. Starting a goal with plans and accountability is always good. Resetting and adjusting our mindsets during our steps to reaching our goal is always helpful whether we feel like we are going to quit or if we are feeling strong in our action plan. It is important that we remember our role in taking care of ourselves, but more importantly, we need to rely on and remember God’s role throughout all of this.
Which one of these tips do you think you can start on, or refocus on today? Leave a message in the comments about which one of these focuses stood out to you. What other reframing or refocusing helps you?
We’d love to hear from you. Remember, we aren’t quitting when we get back up.
If you fill out the form below I'll email you a PDF of motivational quotes for wherever your journey may lead you. My favorite thing to do with them is to print them on card stock, cut them out, punch a hole in the top corner, slide them on a D ring and have them as a little key ring of reminders in my purse.